Most effective type of squat

Interesting research suggesting that quarter squats are more effective than half or full squats in improving sprint performance:

That is interesting, but I’d be quite interested to see the effects on athletes with stronger/higher/faster initial scores. However, one of the difficulties of finding such a study is that as athletes’ athletic measures increase, their inclination to participate in a training experiment decreases.

The vast majority (24/28) of the participants were football players, which suggests that they were accustomed to speed training and the 40 yard dash The quarter squat group was already the fastest group to begin with. They went from 4.68 to about 4.58 on average, which is quite decent. Their vertical jump increased from 75 to about 86cm. the full squat group didn’t improve their sprint performance at all. Seems highly unlikely that in higher trained athletes this trend would be significantly different, although the magnitude of improvement would probably be reduced. A lot of world class track and field athletes use the quarter squat, which is now supported by scientific research.

This makes a lot of sense because joint angles in sprinting and jumping exercises are a lot more smilar to the quarter squat. Using the quarter squat allows you to use heavier loads in the relevant joint angle ranges. When using a full squat, the load is not challenging anymore once you get into these joint angle ranges. The study shows that strength increases are quite specific to the type of squat used, so the full squat does not really improve strength in the joint angle range used for sprinting and jumping.

I was always taught the full squat was not needed for the purposes of sprinting.

And how about people like Merlene Ottey who apparently did not squat.

The Olympic lifting movement has become so big due to x fit and then there is so much information floating about that people become confused about what is right and what is wrong for sprinting.

It’s interesting to see studies validate what was successfully performed by many athletes on Charlie’s watch well over 30 plus years ago.

I posted this clip of Stuart McGill a few months ago in another thread related to squatting, but it’s worth repeating.

Of most relevance is his observation that the type of hip anatomy that allows for high sprint performance is incompatible with deep squatting. Which is probably why you don’t see many video clips of world class sprinters performing deep olympic style squats.

Also keep in mind that real olympic lifters (not wannabes) don’t squat deep for its own sake or because they believe it’s a superior way of building leg strength. They do so out of necessity so that they don’t have to pull the bar as high in order to catch it.

You can add to the no-squat club MVP athletes including Asafa Powell, Fraser-Pryce, and, I believe though I have not seen videos, Elaine Thompson. Steve Francis does not believe in squats and MVP does not do them as part of regular training. Asafa does squats now with his brother, but not when he held the world record. What MVP does instead is weighted step-ups.

Interesting article on T Nation from Charlie, great reading and Charlie states that his athletes squat past parallel for hamstring activation.

The article cited by Robin raises a few question marks. The quarter squat group had pre-test the highest deep squat score and the lowest bodyweight. The ratio was 1.50, compared to 1.31 for the half squat group and 1.37 for the deep squat group. Not exactly three equally matched training groups. The quarter squat 1RM values were only 35% or so higher that the deep squat 1RM. In my experience athletes can lift a lot more from a quarter squat position. No lifting velocities were given. Perhaps the quarter squat group lifted with more power (force x velocity) working on the right side of the F-v spectrum where they needed to improve, whereas their slow strength capabilities were already good enough. Also note that they only did weight training, no sprints or other sports.

Interesting article from Charlie, great reading and Charlie states that his athletes squat past parallel for hamstring activation.[/QUOTE]

It’s not interesting because it was not an interview and what has happened is someone took some facts from Speed Trap and other books and posted the comments as it pertained to questions they made up. The article mentions a book that Charlie wrote but it was not published until after 2010.

The fact that the quarter squat group already had the best sprint times and squat to weight ratio suggests that they should have been expected to improve the least. The opposite is what happened. A more evenly matched group should thus have shown an even greater effect of the quarter squat. They didn’t have the best vertical jump though.

They explain their definition of full, half and quarter squats including the expected knee joint angles in the paper. What they define as a quarter squat may be a bit deeper than what others may consider a quarter squat. Also, by the time they had been training the quarter squat for 16 weeks, the difference between their quarter squat and their full squat was a lot greater.

Regarding hamstring activation, the article also cites a study which showed that partial squats give more hamstring activation than deep squats. In a low squat position, the hamstrings are too short to be able to contribute much.

When it comes to hamstring activation, as far as I understand, it not only depends on the depth of the hips, but how far you lean forward as well. If you’re more upright, hamstring activation will probably occur at lower depth because there will be less hip flexion at parallel vs. when you’re more leaned forward. Think of body angle at high bar squat vs. low bar squat vs. front squat.

This is James Smith

The question regarding the degree to which the hamstrings are recruited in the squat is most simply answered relative to the magnitude of rotation occurring at the axis of the hip and knee.

  • As the knee flexes the hamstring shortens
  • As the hip flexes the hamstring lengthens
  • Squatting with less hip flexion + more knee flexion equates to less hamstring lengthening
  • Squatting with greater hip flexion + less knee flexion equates to more hamstring lengthening

It is for these reasons why even a quarter squat, with sufficient hip flexion + forward trunk rotation, will yield substantial hamstring recruitment and why a rock bottom, high bar/minimal forward trunk rotation, Olympic squat will yield less (the magnitude of knee flexion off-sets the magnitude of hip flexion)

  1. Ange I don’t believe you. ( understandable)
  2. No one would plagiarize work for their own cause. ( total bull ship)
  3. Wow did F mag really do that? ( I know hey?)
  4. Maybe these meat heads are not paying attention and they made a mistake ( ummkay )
  5. all of the above (likely)
  6. none of the above ( plausible)
  7. let’s make stuff up everyone else does. ( exactly)

What’s with the username change?

I think this is another study that is not quite what it seems. As someone else had mentioned, the actual speed of the movement was not controlled for, which makes it likely that the quarter squat group was treating the exercise perhaps as an explosive movement.

The problem, in my opinion, is Time. The length of the study is not sufficient. As a general rule, dynamic exercises will have a greater positive transfer to dynamic activities, especially over the short period of time. For example, If someone gave me an athlete that could be a beginner or intermediate, and I have two weeks to get them ready for a vert test and 60meter test, and I was given two scenarios: (let’s also assume that in each scenario, the actual practice of the events themselves are allowed)

  1. use only plyos
  2. use only medium-heavy weights

There is no question in my mind I would go with 1

But if the same question is posed and I have 36 weeks, there is no question in my mind i’m going with 2

You can reach a reasonably high level of elastic/reactive abilities fairly quickly, which in turn will create a quick transfer. On the contrary, while one can improve strength quickly, the amount of strength necessary to improve other motor qualities is likely to be greater and take a longer time.

So when I read this study, that is essentially what it says to me.

In regards to hamstring recruitment, the highest level is NOT in a Quarter squat. It is also NOT in a rock bottom. It is right in between or perhaps what most people might consider a powerlifting squat (hip crease at same level as top of patella).

Any higher or lower and there will be a comparatively smaller external moment arm acting on the hip.

So IMO (assuming I follow Charlie’s approach of strength training being General) if this study were done long term with every variable controlled for, the powerlifting squat would yield higher results.

But then again, a coach is welcome to implement squats to varying depths, the problem I see however, is most coaches just doing quarter or higher squats. And I believe that to be a mistake.

(edit: crappy spelling, there’s probably more but oh well)

The study was not about hamstring recruitment, it was about finding out what type of squat is most beneficial for jumping and sprinting (mainly acceleration).

There is no reason to assume that the quarter squats were executed faster than the other types of squats, as all squats were done at a set percentage of the participants 1 RM for that particular type of squat.

What the study found was that deeper squats, due to the lighter weight, did not provide stimulus for strength gains in the joint angle ranges relevant to jumping and sprinting and thus had little carryover to these activities. The same can be expected for powerlifting squats, as you can’t move enough weight with these squats to challenge you as you are nearing knee and hip extension. An interetting question, however, would have been weather the inclusion of bands or chains that cause the weight to increase as you move up, would have had similar results to the quarter squats.

Not sure why you think the study was too short either. It was long enough to answer clearly the questions it was designed to answer.

In my judgement, the quest to determine what, at best, a specialized preparatory motion (such as a squat as the most it can do is match muscles involved and nature of contraction relative to the start and first step or two) can provide for a competitive motion (such as a sprint) is, in and of itself, a futile one.

To question “which squat is best for acceleration or jumping” is analogous to the following: a politician is preparing for a speech and he, by analogy to the squat study for purposes other than squatting, is pondering what sort of a vocal coach is best to make more powerful his vocal chords such that he can reach a higher decibel level. Meanwhile, an advisor of his (me in this example) is stating, who cares about a vocal coach and if you can hit a higher decibel level, we need to enhance your actual speech content and specific speech skills such as linguistics, speech patterns, vocabulary, self-confidence, and resolve. Great if some vocal coach’s strategies win out over others in assisting you in hitting a higher decibel level if politics don’t work out and you want to pursue concert hall singing; however, let’s focus on specific and irrefutable means of enhancing your speeches and do whatever you want for your non-specific preparation so long as it is congruent with the most important preparatory work.

Thus, if the context is accelerating faster, any discussion pertaining to subject matter other than sprint mechanics, types of sprint training, and the programming and organization of sprinting is inevitably one analogous to a cat chasing its tail.

Remember, due to individual structural tolerances and anthropometry/morphobiomechanics, different athletes/sprinters will invariably, and for the foreseeable future, always necessitate different modes of non-specific options/leg strengtheners. Thus, just ensure that specialized preparatory options are performed well and don’t spend too much time debating their selection.

This study took a bunch of competitive football players, which means well-trained individuals who already practice the 40 yard dash and vertical jump as well as engage in weight lifting and looked at whether different types of squating can further improve their performance. The quarter squat group improved their performance significantly (by about 1/10s in the 40 yard dash and 11 cm in the vertical jump) while the full squat group did not. To me, this does not suggest that the type of strength training exercise is irrelevant for performance. Of course people can continue doing full squats and hope that they will respond differently to the participants in this study, but I’d rather go with what the research suggests is going to work. As a long jumper, I would surely benefit from being able to run faster and jump higher. Btw: I used to wonder why training videos of Greg Rutherford always seem to show him do squats, cleans and step ups with heavy weights but limited range of motion. Now I know why.

Understand however, that no such study was needed to explain what it explains because the knowledge of the constituents of transfer have been published since the 80’s.

Also, the dynamics of transfer between squatting and vertical jumping are much closer, I’d argue more more than an order of magnitude, then the dynamics shared between squatting and the long jump. Further, I’m unaware of any data that shows that the elite long jumpers of the world are also the elite vertical jumpers of the world.

Regarding Rutherford, I spent two weeks with Dan while he was prepping Greg, Steve Lewis, and others, for the 2012 games and I didn’t even bother to go see what was done in the weight room because, with so very few exceptions, there exists such a disparity in possible direct transfer between what most weight rooms allow for and the dynamics of long jump.

A story I’ve shared a couple times over the years: My first years coaching I was a long jump coach for an unattached jumper who PR’d with me with a 25’10.5" jump and a giant jump beyond 27 feet at Sac State that was a minor foul. I devoted careful attention to long jump work, different types of jumps, and speed, and when we got to the weight room it was basically squat (somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2), bench , row. He was around 85kg in bodyweight and he’d perform low reps with +180kg in the squat.

As I recall Robin1, you are/were quite strong with the weights so I highly doubt that the answer to your long jump preparation has anything to do with weights.

You are right in that I have squatted 2.5x body weight below parallel in the past. However, I have done next to no squats since late 2012 after I partially tore two adductor tendons while squatting. Since then, I’ve largely confined myself to deadlifting and haven’t gone heavy with that either. Moreover, I’ve never done quarter squats. I thus have reason to believe that I have a lot of room for developing a much stronger quarter squat and will give this a try after the world masters champs.

There’s a video on YouTube of Ivana Spanovic quarter squatting 140kg with one leg (with the other foot resting on her knee). Not sure if I’d be able to do this right now.

Another video shows Greg Rutherford doing low step ups with 250kg.

Btw: I’d love to hear what you observed about his preparation for the London Olympics.